eReefs: Relocatable Coastal Modelling Service: high-resolution operational GBR modelling at scale, and on demand


From here

Sharon Tickell1, Fahan Rizwi2, Jack Beardsley2, Tim Heap2, Matthew Wildie1, Daniel Wild2

1CSIRO Environment, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
2CSIRO Environment, Hobart, TAS, Australia


eReefs is a collaboration between Australian research and government agencies that supports assessment of Great Barrier Reef (GBR) conditions.

CSIRO’s eReefs contribution includes a trio of nested process models of the GBR, each of which is forced by its parent. The GBR4 regional model is based on a 4km -resolution 3D curvilinear grid, and the results of that model are used as boundary conditions for the 1km-resolution GBR1 shelf model. Compute and storage limitations mean it is not practical to operate a higher resolution model for the full extent of the GBR, so we instead developed the RElocatable COastal Modelling service (RECOM) which allows non-specialist researchers and managers to apply the eReefs model suite with GBR1 or GBR4 forcing for custom coastal locations or individual reefs.

The prototype eReefs RECOM system was limited in terms of the number of concurrent users it could handle. As a part of eReefs Phase 5, we have rewritten RECOM from the ground up, and RECOM2 is API-driven, containerised, cloud-agnostic, hosted with a public cloud provider, and can be easily scaled-up in response to demand.

RECOM2 was released in May 2023 and is designed to support a larger cohort of end-users than its predecessor, including the intervention scenario modelling for the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP). This talk includes an overview of RECOM2, describes how to get access to RECOM2, and discusses the challenges of a public cloud deployment involving a critical dependency on tens of terabytes of forcing data.


Sharon is a software engineer who has been involved with the design, deployment, and maintenance of the CSIRO eReefs data and visualisation components since 2013, and with eReefs RECOM since 2021. She currently leads the Coastal Informatics team in the CSIRO Environment business unit and is involved with the ongoing operation of multiple eResearch platforms including eReefs, OzCoasts, and the RRAP Modelling and Decision Support information System.


This is a seriously impressive system. The slides from the talk are available

But some key points:

  • RElocatable COastal Model (RECOM): GUI front end allows researchers to define an area of interest (typically a coral atoll) and model only that region at ultra high resolution nested in coarser model. Model configuration is automatic (grid, boundary conditions etc).
  • Django server
  • React GUI
  • Docker swarm
  • PostGIS
  • AWS S3 data back-end. Fix for Lustre just-in-time parallel posix cache
  • Some in-situ analysis. Publish analyses for sharing